At some point, Christians stopped writing Jesus fanfic, which is a crying shame.

Why?  Because mythmaking is a necessary part of how the Holy Spirit speaks reality into being, and being familiar with how to make stuff up is a necessary prerequisite for being authentically inspired.  Thus, more of us modern folks should get good at making myths.

So I’ve given it a go.  What follows is a myth I fabricated today, thousands of years later, describing the detailed events that happened during Epiphany: the visit of the Wise Men / Kings to Jesus in Bethlehem, which most of Christianity will celebrate tomorrow, January 6th.  I wrote it with the understanding that those figures were powerful magicians – mages, not just ‘wise men’.

I’ve titled it “The Secret Book of the Magi” in the style of much of the Jesus fanfic of late antiquity of which there are many examples.  Many were recovered in the Nag Hammadi dig, and others are part of collections that were not suppressed, just don’t count as Scripture.  Secret Books (apocrypha) tell things that aren’t in canon, and that often gift the reader with powerful or useful knowledge.  You can look at this one as an example of how to do that, as well as being a tool for you to use as written for your own magical practice.

There are two points I really want to underline about this myth:

1. This is Jesus fanfic, just as the Gospels are also fanfic.  That is, I am not claiming that this is a report of documentable events.  That’s not how myths work.  But the story it tells is true in very real and concrete and important ways.  And it tells the reader about who God is and who the people involved in God’s story are.

2. This myth was entirely fabricated. Not ‘revealed’ to me or ‘discovered’ by me or ‘divined’ in any way.  I made it up.  But it can certainly be said to have been inspired.  Relatedly, “epiphany” means manifestation or appearance, which is perfect for the themes of myth in general.

My myth fits in between verses 11 and 12 of the second chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew (which I’ve copy/pasted from the NRSV in red here making only a few smol edits) and it works best read aloud.  Below the ‘book’ are some suggestions for how you can use this myth in your magical practice.  Enjoy!


[1] In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, mages from the East came to Jerusalem, [2] asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” [3] When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; [4] and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. [5] They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

[6] ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who is to rule/shepherd my people Israel.’”

[7] Then Herod secretly called for the mages and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. [8] Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” [9] When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. [10] When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. [11] On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

This secret book tells more of the magi and what they did that night.

These three powerful mages had come to the City of David, three kings, three scholars of the sky, for they wished to honor the Christ child and to give him a gift of surpassing excellence, a great and powerful artifact, which could only be made under that particular sky.

And they surrounded the holy babe and his blessed mother.  Each brought with him a treasure chest filled with gifts for the newborn King.  Melchior, the Persian King, opened his treasure chest, revealing a mountain of gold coins, gold ingots, bright stones, crystals, and jewels, and adornments of every kind, saying: “These I offer to you, O King – everything within – But tonight, especially this,” and from among these he chose a crown of delicate wrought gold, trapping jewels of many kinds in its spun threads and forming pinnacles that glittered and shone.  And he knelt before Mary and her son and held it forth.

And Balthazar, the Arabian King, opened his treasure chest revealing papers and scripts, writing implements and inks, linen garments and dyes, and richly embroidered cloths, saying: “These I offer to you, O King – everything within – But tonight, especially this,” and from among these he chose a decorated bottle, stoppered and sealed, marked with sigils and words of power, and containing the traditional oil for consecrating the dead – the unguent of myrrh.  And he knelt before Mary and her son and held it forth.

And Gaspar, the Indian King, opened his treasure chest and within it were herbs and spices, tinctures and distillations, pastes and gels and powders fine, and with them scrolls with all the records of songs, rubrics and procedures, spells and incantations necessary to utilize them, saying: “These I offer to you, O King – everything within – But tonight, especially this,” and from among these he chose a pouch of frankincense, an altar offering of solidified sunlight whose perfumes rise as smoke to please God above.  And he knelt before Mary and her son and held it forth.

And Mary, mother of Jesus, received all their treasures in keeping for her son.

And the mages looked to the sky and when the time was right, they took the crown of gold and placed it upon a high place saying together, “He is king,” and they dressed the crown with the oil of myrrh, saying together, “of the Dead,” and they lit the frankincense and suffumigated the crown, saying together, “and we worship him.”

And they did awesome magic and enchanted the crown, imbuing it with formidable powers for the wearer: Powers of rulership that one’s edict would prove true.  Powers over the dead such that one could command them, communicate with them, raise them, and be protected among them in their land. And powers of the sun that no darkness could obscure the truth from the wearer, but illuminate all dark places and uncover all hidden things.

And they presented the crown to Mary for safeguarding until the time when the Christ himself died and came into his royal kingship thereby.  And they bowed low and touched their foreheads to the ground, and they rose up and lifted their hands to the heavens and they praised God and sang to the Christ child songs and honored him.  And they were overcome and saw visions and heard words and fell into a deep sleep and dreamed.

[12] And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Here are some suggested possibilities of how to use this myth:

  1. Make offerings on epiphany (the annual feast day celebrating this encounter as it occurs in scripture) of gold (a gold dollar coin), frankincense (a few resin crystals), and myrrh (a few drops) tossed into a hearthfire, and then worship Jesus Christ as they did.  This is a purely devotional option with nothing you ‘get’ out of it.
  2. Make a magical artifact – maybe not at Epiphany, but whenever astrological/astronomical conditions favor the thing you want to make.  Bring two of your friends. Pretend to be the magi and as they did on that night, you will do on this night, making a ‘copy’ of that artifact of lore.  Instead of just reading this story aloud, you would act it out as a pageant.
  3. Tell the story as you induce a trance state in which you, like the magi, can see visions and hear words and dream portentous dreams that help you overthrow tyrants.
  4. Invoke Mary Keeper of Treasures and ask her to bestow her son’s gifts on you – whatever she thinks is appropriate – for your working, from her stores of treasures in the mages’ gift chests.

Each of these are examples of historiolic magic where you tell the mythic story as part of a magic ritual, and draw parallels from it to what you are doing now.  And you are allowed, even encouraged, to alter the myth to better suit your situation. The magi can pick different things out of those chests!  Maybe they don’t make a crown, they make a ring.  Maybe the crown protects from fever rather than giving the powers I listed.  Maybe you want to emphasize certain elements of the putative sky then – a conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn in Leo, say – and you can write that into the story.  Myths are for being modified, adjusted, retconned, augmented, and re-written over and over again.  So take this one and make it yours.

Iron and Fiber in My Diet

Earlier this month, I did a working where I expected I’d need the benefits of a good active ward but the traditional ‘casting a circle’ or ‘holding out my shields’ wouldn’t have been appropriate to do; they have several disadvantages that would have made it an unsuitable method of ward laying for this application:

  1. It is costly. It costs attention and energy from me to keep that kind of thing operating, and I needed every available erg for the hard work stuff that was supposed to be going on inside the ward and I knew I wouldn’t have the concentration or energy to keep the ward up during the working.

  2. Invisible means invisible to my co-workers.  If it doesn’t have a physical marker, my compatriots can’t see it.  And if they have no spirit sense, they can’t be sure they’re on the right side (inside) of the barrier.  That’s dangerous.

  3. The space I was working in was decidedly non-circular.  Sometimes the space you’re in is a narrow strip of hallway or just a free-form shape and not a anything-gon.  Casting a circle in both Wiccan and Golden Dawn styles generates a regular geometrical sphere, so you have two choices: make a small sphere that doesn’t encompass the whole space but that you can see all of with your mind’s eye, or make a large sphere much larger than the space you can see so that it definitely encompasses even the largest single dimension of the area but that you can’t see all of.  If one of those works for you, great, but I find that the small version is too small, and the large version is too weak.  The bits that lie outside the room’s dimensions – the bits I don’t see – are harder to maintain in my intention.  If they don’t fit my mental spatial map of the place, I get sloppy about their borders.

    In this particular case I was working inside someone’s back yard which was a narrow rectangle of a space.  Plus there was the added issue that I did not want what I was doing to cross over into the neighbors’ properties.  That’s just rude, Karen.

So I made a tool for concretizing that ward that addresses those problems.  TL;DR: I tacked a rope into the ground using iron spikes and I told it to behave like a wall.  It worked exceedingly well.  Which is why this post.

Iron being great as an anti-magic barrier is well attested in multiple traditions – Hoodoo, Celtic folklore, and Catholic traditions (such as making a cross necklace out of nails) to name just a few.

And rope as a magic anchor is also not news, as any sailor anywhere will tell you.  Community eruv lines also use this principle.

Using iron and rope together makes for an effective, lightweight, and flexible wall portable to wherever you want to work.  I highly recommend this tool.  Here’s my recipe for how I did it:

Set-it-and-forget-it Ward

This works best for a ward you’re setting outside in squishy earth. I suspect it would work under other circumstances but I haven’t tested it.  In such cases, you thread the iron spike through the loop and lay it flat rather than banging it into the ground. 

Material Components

  • Rope of natural fibers – Having the rope be made of natural fibers like jute, hemp, or cotton, is important.  There’s a directionality to the component fibers’ orientations that doesn’t exist in nylon or other synthetics; it enhances the rope’s ability to hold on to intention and transfer it down itself continuously.  Choose a length long enough to enclose the area you’ll be working in with at least a few feet left over. I used 100 feet of quarter inch jute rope which cost me under $13 online.  That was enough to surround an area of one backyard fire ringed by four lawn chairs, with room to move around.

  • Iron spikes – Railroad spikes would have been great, but I couldn’t scavenge any.  Instead, I bought eight used foot-long rusty iron nails for under $1 from the local scrap recycling joint.  In theory, tent stake staples should work too.

  • Sledgehammer – or other thing to bang giant spikes into the ground with.  I used a crowbar, for lo, it was handy.

  • Whatever stuff you use to consecrate other stuff – I used self-made chrism and holy water.



  1. Learn how to make an alpine butterfly knot.  I know how to work with rope and how to tie a few useful knots because reasons.  And I do a good bit with knotcraft in my magic.  Outside of Ian’s Secure Shoelace knot, the alpine butterfly is the next most useful knot I’ve ever found.  I use it all the freaking time for many tasks.  But it’s especially suitable for this application because it can be tied in-the-bight (i.e. you don’t need to have one of the working ends of the rope free to tie it), and when it’s properly formed it leaves the rest of the rope running all in one direction without twisting, kinking, or buckling.  In short, it lets me take 100 ft of rope and turn it into a continuous rope line that lies totally flat, with loops that stick out from it, which is exactly what this application wants.


  2. Tie alpine butterfly knots into the rope. One at each working end of the line, and the rest between those ends.  Pick a number of total loops that is one more than you need.  You can space them evenly between the end-loops – like if you want four spikes to go in, one toward each cardinal direction, you’ll want five loops – one close to each end, and three more evenly spaced between them.  Or you can mock lay the rope in the area you’ll be working in and mark out the exact places the loops should go for when the rope makes turns or winds around an obstacle.  I used eight loops, leaving me seven points in the line to secure with spikes.

  3. Consecrate the rope to the purpose of warding in whatever manner you like.  At minimum, this should involve telling the rope what it’s for.  I used a modified Roman Catholic rite of blessing that called for rubbing the rope with chrism and sprinkling it with holy water.  Don’t attempt to consecrate the iron spikes.  That’s not how any of this works.


  1. Check the enloopenated rope for breakages or damage, and if you find none, bring it, the hammer, and spikes with you to the area you’ll be working in.

  2. Lay the rope on the ground, orienting it such that the line of the rope lies straight and the loops point outwards.  Let the rope mark the border of where you want protection.  Importantly, the location of the rope’s ends matters: overlap the two lead-end loops with one another – this area, the place the two ends of the rope meet, will be the area folks enter and exit the space through before the ward is sealed shut and after the working is over.

  3. Starting at the overlapping ends and moving clockwise, trace the rope with your hand and your intent, banging in spikes at each of non end-loops.  By “intent”, I mean “intent to turn it into a wall” or barrier or whatever.  I forced that intention through the rope while singing a hymn setting of Psalm 23.

  4. Leave the ends loops empty but overlap them. Set the last spike and the hammer near them.

  5. Cleanse the space – I did the LBRP but whatever your normal minor banishing is goes here.  Be sure to do this BEFORE you seal the final spike through.

  6. At the end of the cleansing, bang the final spike in as shown in the top photo here.  One spike goes through the final two overlapping loops.  If you have help during your working, you can even set someone else to do the final spike, as I did, so that you can time it to just after the banishing.

  7. Do your working.

  8. When it’s time to break the ward down, pull up the final spike and let folks out.  Wind the rope up in the opposite direction you laid it down, pulling up the spikes as you go.

And that’s it.  

I have to say that laying this thing was one of the more satisfying feelings I’ve encountered.  When the last spike went through the two overlapping loops and into the ground it made an inaudible –click- like the way the air in the elevator seems muffled and too-close once the doors shut.

Being that it was a magical barrier, it was flexible – wall-like when I needed it to be a barrier, fence-like when I wanted to see beyond it, and with a gate that I could open and close with minimal effort.

And it was exceedingly effective.  I was able to work unencumbered by the energy drain that sometimes goes into such things, and it did what it was supposed to do.  Nothing came in that I didn’t call to come in.

It kept the cats out.

And the best thing is that it’s reusable.  The steps under “PREP” above only have to be done once.  You should routinely check the rope for wear and breakages, and remake it with a new rope if any are found.  But until then you have a simple, effective, and highly portable wall to carry with you to future workings.


For folks who need precision in location-based targeting in workings, I have found What3Words to be very helpful.

TL;DR: Some cartographers and coders took satellite images of the surface of the world, gridded them into 3 meter by 3 meter squares, and gave each square a unique three-word name.  Then, they made an app.

You can tell the app your address, or a set of GPS coordinates, and it will show you the grid overlay, and you can browse the squares and see their three-word names.

Or you can do lookups the other way; put in a three-word name and get back a pin on a map showing exactly where that is.  For example, I’ve always wanted to visit workbook.remote.galloping.

It’s super useful for problems of delivering mail to places without streets let alone street names.  Or showing someone what door on what wall they should use to get into your building.  Or advertising where the rave will be on social media without triggering address scraper bots.

But it’s also useful for handling problems of remote magic involving locations, because it lets you denote linguistically in a spoken work where things should happen.  Where exactly you want to draw the perimeter of a ward, for example.  And the 3×3 meter resolution means you can discriminate between nearby areas cleanly.  Say for focusing on one area of a large garden bed and not affecting its neighboring plants.

It is inconvenient in several ways, though.  One is that the grid is X,Y only; no Z.  It doesn’t differentiate vertically at all.  That is, it would have the same three-word identifier for apartment 118, 218, and 818 in an apartment building, because they all occupy the same 3×3 square on the ground.  So if you need vertical precision in your work, you need to specify that in other ways.

Another problem is that there isn’t much power behind the naming – the strings of names are somewhat meaningless (on purpose), and unlike postal addresses the name of any given square has nothing to do with the names of its adjacent squares (again, they did this on purpose), which means the three words don’t tell you anything about that square’s location relative to it’s neighbors, or to world landmarks.  For example, foam.apple.proud is right next to guest.pest.senses but you would have no way of knowing that from their names.  Nor would you have any way of knowing that both of them are in Times Square, which brings up another problem: there’s not a large egregor supported by this program. Many folks can picture “Times Square” easily but don’t have a shared collective experience of foam.apple.proud.  But as the developers say, “The what3words system is fixed and will never change.  So a 3 word address today will still be the same in 10 years’ time.” which means it should grow in utility over time, not diminish.

Regardless of these problems, I still find the grid to be useful in improving the effectiveness of location-based work, and maybe you will too.  Happy mapping!

[Book Review] Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power

The problem with having a Rare Books Book Club is that by definition the books are rare and so copies are expensive :-/

For single copies, though, my library system has so far had a copy somewhere of almost everything I’ve wanted to read. And with my borrowing privileges at through various institutions I haven’t even had to ILL stuff.

I just finished reading Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power edited by Marvin Meyer and Richard Smith (1994, Harper SF) and it was useful enough that I bought myself a copy.  Maybe my review here will help you determine whether to borrow or buy it for yourself as well. Continue reading “[Book Review] Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power”

St. Patrick’s Armor Magic

It’s the Feast of Saint Patrick, so time for us to clear something up:

St. Patrick was definitely a magic user.  A Christian, sure.  A Bishop even.  But also a badass mage.

From my scholarship on St. Patrick (by which I mean reading several connected Wikipedia articles, and some of the websites they cite) I know that he was a 5th-ish century Brit who was a) captured and enslaved by Irish pirates as a kid who b) God saved by telling him to be ready for escape at the right time, who then c) became a Bishop and went back to the area of his captivity to evangelize.

Those bits are history, which come from his own surviving letters. The writing of his hagiography didn’t happen for like another two centuries, however, and those stories are where we get into some problematic stuff. Patrick is a difficult Saint to love what with all his being canonized for doing his best to wipe out native Irish religion and colonizing it with Christianity. The myth about his having “removed all the snakes from Ireland” could be interpreted as referring to the druidic practitioners, not the wiggly ground reptiles.

The prayers attributed to St Patrick are interesting, therefore, because they have a distinctly pagan bendt to them.

The most famous of these is St. Patrick’s Lorica aka St. Patrick’s Breastplate.  You can take a look now, but I’ve also copied a modified version of the text below, with some of my commentary.

Scholars fight about whether it’s 5th vs. 8th century (quite a big gap). It gets called a “prayer”, but looking at the text it is very very obviously not a prayer. At least, obvious to me, and should be to anyone who studies Christianity or magic or the intersection of the two like I do.

Prayer is conversational. It has speaking-to characteristics. You address your petition, praise, or concern to God. This … this is a magical spell. Specifically it’s a binding to make a ward. The speaker binds God to themselves to act as a shield or a sort of preemptive exorcism.

Now, I don’t read ancient Irish Gaelic, but the translations into English still preserve the gross structure of the text: It opens with an invocation and binding of the Christian Triune God to the speaker, followed by a historiolic binding of Christ’s storied life, a binding of various virtues, bindings of the spiritual essences of various holy people, binding the elements (not just the usual fire, air, water, earth but also lightning, and the sun and moon) – all to work a thing.

The thing worked is a divine shield against “every hostile merciless power which may assail my body and my soul,” examples of which are enumerated in the next section: demons, vices, murderous intent, etc., the last grouping of which is also elements-related: “…Against every poison” (plants/earth), “against burning” (fire), “against drowning” (water), and “against death-wound” (presumably air?).

The final section is a somagram – which is a word I’ve just made up, meaning a magic you do on your body to position things spatially. Basically using your body as a map for the magic. Roman and Orthodox Catholics making the Sign of the Cross on their bodies is one example of a somagram.

In the Lorica, the speaker puts Christ not just “on” but in specific places with respect to the body: “before me, behind me, within me..” and “…on my right hand, on my left hand,” etc., building the physicality of the shield.  Such proclamations are accompanied with gestures and bodily movement. I’ll speak more on somagrams in a later post.

Finally, there is a brief Latin prayer as a coda.

So the question comes up, how do you take the shield off?

Does the spell just ‘wear off’? Or was it supposed to be paired with a similarly formal “doffing” spell where (one imagines) the speaker would thank God for the protection, and ya know, go back to being an unbound human again?

Depending on how you read “I bind unto myself today” that could just mean “for just today”, which would maybe naturally lapse when the sun sets (or maybe when the sun rises again) so you’d have to renew it each day. But it could instead be a lasting spell that could end up being terribly exhausting for the speaker who hasn’t figured in a method to take God off again.

To my dismay, this concern was apparently NOT in the mind of the Victorian hymn poet C. F. Alexander who in 1890 turned the Lorica into a bloody hymn. It’s called “I bind unto myself today” and it is most familiar to Anglicans and Roman Catholics, but the the latest edition of the Presbyterian Hymnal: Glory To God has it too (#6 for those following along at home) which means you and your congregation can do a group binding (with no apparent means of taking off the armor again!) at the Sunday worship service of your choosing.  Great.

I have found Armor Magics to be particularly useful, and this is a great template to use for Christian magical practitioners so I wanted to share my own recipe for how I make the Lorica:

Elroi’s Embellishments of St Patrick’s Lorica

I don’t want to go through so much effort to put on a powerful magic shield that I can’t then un-do later at my own discretion, so when I use this ward (and I use it a fair amount) I build things into the architecture of the spell that definitively give it an end time: I use “unto myself for today” instead of just “today” and I write it down on a piece of paper I tie on to my body in a way that can later be un-tied, and the paper burned so I can control when to end the work.

I write it out by hand (rather than printing out a typed sheet) as I do for much of my longer works. I find that the act of writing it is itself an intentional practice, and the work is more effective for the labor.

I personalize it to be effective only on me and to have a delayed start. One option for that is to use ink that contains homeopathic concentrations of my own blood (more than that and you risk clotting your fountain pen closed), but another is to limit the identification to certain areas on the page. Let me explain what I mean.

I don’t typically want the shield to be active at the moment I’m writing it, I want it to be effective at a later moment of my choosing. So I set it up with a fuse.  One way to set a fuse is to leave out the word “myself” from the writing everywhere it appears. Sometime later, you fill in the missing word and it is at that moment that the spell completes and becomes active.  I don’t tend to use that method, because I tend to want to use the Lorica while traveling away from home and don’t tend to travel with my pen and ink setup handy. Instead, I draw four hollow cross shapes at the corners of the paper (as though they could be colored in) and write the opening incantation on each of the four sides, graphically tying the two together. To activate, I speak the opening invocation plus the Latin coda aloud, adding something of me to the inside of the cross shapes (saliva, blood).  This has the added benefit of identifying the target “myself” as limited to me – which my co-Workers appreciate; it’s bad form to get one’s God all over everything.  But it can also mean that you can write the spell up for someone else to use, and target the “myself” to whoever’s DNA marks the crosses.

Another option for the fuse might be to reserve the final intention for the somagraphy. That is, it doesn’t activate until you both speak aloud the “Christ before me…” section with the accompanying bodily gestures.

For my base written text, I used the translation favored by the Rosary Church, which I believe most literally translates the Gaelic, and keeps a lot more of the original pagan imagery. I then modified the text to suit my own needs as follows:

I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The three in one and one in three.
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Elements.

I bind unto myself for today:
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ along with His Baptism,
The virtue of His Crucifixion along with His Death,
The virtue of His Burial along with His Descent into Hell,
The virtue of His Resurrection along with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind unto myself for today:
Power in the virtuous love of Seraphim,
In the obedience of Angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Ascetics,
In the deeds of the righteous.

I bind unto myself for today:
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind unto myself for today:
God’s Power to lead me,
God’s Might to uphold me,
God’s Wisdom to teach me,
God’s Eye to watch over me,
God’s Ear to hear me,
God’s Word to give me speech,
God’s Hand to guide me,
God’s Way to lie before me,
God’s Shield to shelter me,
God’s Host to secure me.

I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power which may assail my body and my soul:

Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near, Whether few or many.

Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the harmful spells of witches, and smiths, and sorcerers,
Against every knowledge that binds the souls of mortals.

Christ, protect me:
Against every poison,
Against burning,
Against drowning,
Against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

Christ be with me:
Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ at the helm
Christ in breadth and length and depth,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The three in one and one in three.
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Elements.

Domini est salus.
Domini est salus.
Christi est salus.
Salus tua, Domine, sit semper nobiscum.

Some of my modifications are structural (I rearranged the order of certain lines to better group the intentions; all “against”s are in the same section now, for example) and others are for style (the opening four lines of the invocation is from the hymn here, not the literal translation).

I have also made many modifications for content, such as adding the word “harmful” in front of “spells of witches, and smiths, and sorcerers” and eliminating the line about “the black laws of heathenism”. Armor that keeps your teammate from being able to heal you is a bad idea. I use gender-neutral language (e.g. souls of “mortals” instead of “man”) and expansive language (purity of holy “ascetics” instead of “virgins”) when possible.  I added the virtues of Christ’s “Death” and “Descent” to the mix because a lot of what I do involves Chthonic travel, and I particularly want to call in those aspects of Christ’s life in the historiola.

It’s possible that the Latin prayer coda at the end was added much later to the text, as a Christianizing token, but it’s also quite possible that it was included in the original as foreign-sounding god-words. I do include it but I leave it off of the paper entirely, speaking it aloud at the activation right after reading the invocation words.

I hope my example encourages you to make your own modifications of the Lorica, suited to your faith traditions and your own magical practice. Have a blessed Feast of Saint Patrick!

Scarabaeidae Revisited

On my walk the other day,
I met Beetle.

Not sure who she was;
something Scarabaeidae
shiny gold-green
bright hexapod centered
on the sidewalk square.
…I looked again.

She wouldn’t fly.
One wing missing
the other bent in semaphore.
I could see her buggy innards twisting around
laboring within the shell.

Crush her now!
I said to my sold self
I thought
to end her suffering.
Find your compassion!
Pity from you will save her
hours of agony.
Don’t just leave her there
struggling to right herself
in pain
until she dies of it;
hold her permanent
in your Merciful hand.

…I looked again.

No, not in pain, it seemed,
but molting
another like-thing
flexing, bending to escape
the pretty tomb.
She was not dead
but growing —

How glad I did not crush her!
I moved her to the grass
to thwart Bird’s lunch.
…and looked again.

The thing inside was no facsimile.
Not a new stronger brighter scarab
but something eating that.
A grub or worm,
no less entitled to her corpse than I,
whose excavations mimed distress.
I left them to their cycle there
and walked on.


I’d been having pain in my hands. Aches, sometimes sharper pains, but not like getting stabbed — nothing debilitating, I could still write and type, pick things up, work like I always do.

It felt like I’ve been climbing or playing guitar the day before, but I haven’t been. At first, I thought it was that I was clenching my fists while I was sleeping, but my partners don’t report seeing that.

Now I think I know what it is: referred pain.

From phantom limbs.

Except in this case, the limbs are wings.

Continue reading “Homunculus”


CW: cursory descriptions of body modification, needles/hooks

This past weekend, I executed the fourth flesh hook energy pull I’ve done in my life. If you don’t know what that is, the internets have excellent demonstration videos that you absolutely SHOULD NOT VIEW if needles and/or blood squick you.

TL;DV: You put large hooks through your body, use them to tether yourself to something/someone you can pull against, and dance like that for hours.

The ritual calls for one support person per dancer (that is, per person taking hooks). The support person’s job is super important. They hold your hand (or your intention, or your worry) through the piercing act. They check in to make sure you’re not quietly going into shock.  They help secure the tethers to whatever it is you want to pull against, un-clip and re-clip you to different objects. Make sure you have what you need to keep dancing – keep you hydrated, keep the earth below your feet, keep you functional enough to sustain the high.

Seems like something nearly any close friend could do, right? But they also have to be respectful of religious practice, not be squicked by blood and needles, and not get in the way energetically with their own presence. Turns out, that’s a rare bird.

I was extremely fortunate to have a friend able to fulfill that role for me in the eleventh hour, after all my previous arrangements fell through. He had never done this before, nor seen it done. I tried to explain what it was going to be like, and … mostly failed I think, because he talked later about having had different expectations than what actually ended up happening.

Part way through the pull, he said to me, “Um … this … looks a lot like sex.”

“You have your metaphor the wrong way around,” I said. “Sex looks a lot like this, if you’re doing it right,” which got a laugh. It seemed to make sense to him I think.

But this exchange highlighted a disconnect I often have when talking to friends and family about my spiritual practices. Most of them can’t understand why I do this. I thought it was mostly a failure of our vocabularies/terminologies to shake hands, but I think there’s a Chomsky-esque chicken-and-egg problem too. We can’t talk productively about it, because they don’t have the concepts in their heads to map my words to in the first place and my attempts at trying to explain why one would want to go through such an ordeal don’t seem to get the concepts through.

“Doesn’t that hurt?” they ask.
“Yes,” I say, “that is kind of the point.”

“Why not just stub your toe really bad?” they ask.
“It has to be couched in ritual,” I say.
“But I thought you were a Christian!” they say.
“I am,” I say, “My religious tradition has a long and glorious history of body trauma for the sake of the soul. This is in no wise incompatible.”
…and they shake their heads.

“What is it like?” They ask.
“It’s hard to describe,” I say.

But here’s an attempt, anyway:

Continue reading “Pull”



This past weekend, I executed a ritual I had put together with friends. Successfully (more on this in a subsequent post), but it was touch-and-go at times during the planning stages.

The event was long overdue. The last one I’d done was in 2008 and there wasn’t going to be one I could attend in the foreseeable future, so a friend and I organized our own: called around to find other people interested in participating, secured skilled specialists, searched for and vetted a venue, figured out how sleeping and food was going to work.

Oh how I loathe event planning.

Tried to swing it for this past May, but couldn’t get enough participants. The consensus was October would be better, so we postponed it until the 22nd.

But as the date approached, the person I had earmarked for leading the ritual, half the participants and more than half the support personnel had to cancel, some in the last 48 hours. Some because I didn’t follow through with them appropriately, others for their own very legitimate reasons — family crises, other obligations, financial hardship. They all most sincerely wished they could have been there.

If I were a superstitious person, I would have seen everything tanking — all the obstacles and stumbling blocks that put themselves in the way of doing this — as “Signs Not To Do The Thing” and folded the operation.

Fortunately, I’m not superstitious; I’m science-licious.

Continue reading “Superstition”